Typical APMP Question: Describe five benefits of using a project lifecycle?

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Paul Naybour 4 years, 12 months ago.

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  • #15234

    Paul Naybour
    Moderator

    Most organisations have a standard project lifecycle, with defines phases and gates, but what are the benifits? 

    #15241

    Paul Carter
    Participant

    Hi Paul,
    How’s this for size – Managed this in around 20 mins. Unfortunately, found that by typing my written answer in, I clarified some of the points which I hadn’t done on the written version (15 mins for a clearly written answer is going to be tricky!). Anyway….

    A Project lifecycle allows a project to be considered as a sequence of distinct phases giving the structure and approach to progressively deliver the required outputs. The standards phases of the lifecycle are Concept, definition, Implementation and HO&C. The benefits of using a life cycle are as follows :

    1. With defined phases the Project Manager will be able to plan the work for the current and subsequence phases, rather than attempting to plan the whole project accurately in one go. It is always easier to plan a shorter horizon of time, and this is achieved by splitting the work into discrete phases. For examples, for a 5 year project, the Project Manager would only have a vague idea of dates for phases, so would be better placed focusing on the immediate future.

    2. With defined phases a level of control can be established which only allows progression to the next phases once a defined criteria has been met. At these authorisation points, the Business Case will be re-reviewed, continued project viability and re-assessment of risks going forward. This is a natural point to stop the project if the reasons to continue do not continue to exist.

    3. As each phase has defined output, the project team can focus on the activities required for that phase. This then avoids missed activities and aim to progressive deliver the outputs. For example, in the concept phase, the emphasis should be on the viability and feasibility, rather than team members starting design.

    4. By using phases in a lifecycle, specialist resources can be planned to become available when the relevant phase/stage commences. This will make the utilisation of the resources more cost effective. For example, in an IT project, programmers would be required within the Build Stage phase and would not be required for earlier phases.

    5. By using phases, the project manager can align payments to the completion of a particular stage/phase. With the control points in place, the reviews will ascertain the completeness of the phase and will therefore allow payment to be authorised. For example, in a house build project, the payment for architectural plans would be identified as only occurring after satisfactory completion of the Design stage of the Implementation phase.

    Thanks in advance for any comments.
    Regards
    Paul

    #15240

    Hi Paul,
    A quick attempt:

    5 benefits of an organisation using a standard project lifecycle would be:
    1) Providing clear definition of the stages the project will go through allows quality criteria to be set for the work at each stage. An organisation can develop standard forms or documents which aid the Project Manager and / or Project Team to deliver this work. This allows better work to be done, at a quicker & more efficient rate than could otherwise be done.

    2) Planning of the project will be more effective. A standard lifecycle will provide clarity of the work expected throughout, and this will aid communication with all stakeholders involved with the project. The resources required to deliver the project, and the schedule by which this will be done, can be established and communicated, allowing potential risks and resource constraints to be identified and more easily mitigated against.

    3) Allowing relevant knowledge and best practice from similar stages of the project life cycle to be considered and applied to the project’s work. This provides a context for organisational learning, as lessons learnt from reviews and audits can be collated and shared to enhance an organisation’s capability to deliver projects successfully. It can also allow benchmarking to be carried out across organisations and projects.

    4) Providing a context for control throughout the project. The Project Manager will be able to work to agreed milestones throughout the project lifecycle by which the progress can be measured and evaluated by the Project Sponsor. This can be used to establish opportunities for engagement with the client(s), and reduces the likelihood of unrealistic expectations being placed upon the project (or upon the Project Manager) by project stakeholders.

    5) The use of a standard lifecycle within an organisation also allows programmes to be organised more effectively. There will be increased standardisation of process, and functional skills within an organisation (e.g. planning, scheduling, estimating, risk management) can be applied with greater assurance of quality. Timescales and budgeting across projects can be more easily managed to give visibility to the Programme Manager of issues, risks and / or opportunities.

    #15239

    Paul Naybour
    Moderator

    Mike

    Another good answer, nice points well made.

    #15238

    Paul Naybour
    Moderator

    Paul

    I like your answer too, five clear points and enough content to show you understand the topic.

    Paul

    #15237

    Karen
    Participant

    Hi Paul,

    This is my attempt within the timeframe. Please provide some feedback on where I can improve. Feel like I am struggling with the time – 15mins is not long!

    1. Having the project lifecycle helps show the logical progression through a project. It shows each phase (concept, definition, implementation, handover and closeout) and defines what the objectives and objectives are for each phase.

    2. Having a lifecycle provides an obvious point in which to stop and evaluate where the project is at. This happens between phases and can involve a gate review to ensure things are on track. For example, this could happen between the definition and Implementation phases where the Project Management Plans are reviewed and signed off before implementation can start.

    3.They help with identifying resource requirements, which in turn assists an organisation in ensuring they have appropriate levels of resource in place at the right time. The resourcing level and requirement changes at different times during a projects lifecycle. e.g. in the initial phases, resource may be low while the business case is put together, however during the implementation phaase a lardge number of resources may be required. By identifying this early, the organisation can plan and allow for this in advance.

    4. A benefit is that we can link progress to the lifecycle and recognise the completion of a phase. This can help with increasing morale and confidences amongst stakeholders especially during critical and difficult parts of the project.

    5. The lifecycle provides a structure that ensures attention is given to the early stages of the project and that it goes through a number of gate reviews (normally at the end of each phase) which helps ensure the project stays on track.

    #15236

    Paul Naybour
    Moderator

    Karen

    Another good answer.

    Paul

    #15235

    Paul Naybour
    Moderator

    Question List and describe five benefits of a project lifecycle

    1. Help provide an understanding of required resource.
    2. Ability to plan each project phase.
    3. Ensure continued project viability.
    4. Ensure sufficient attention is devoted to the planning phase.
    5. Progress can be linked directly to phases.

    1. A project lifecycle allows an organisation to understand which resources may be required (both in number and nature) and when. A life cycle is an easy way of showing a logical progression through a project, with clearly defined activities and output at each stage. These activities can be mapped out on a RACI plan, and align to personnel to create a resource plan, which can help an organisation to plan its necessary levels of resource requirement. It will tell an organisation which resources are required and when, so the organisation can plan in advance. For example during the design phase, an organisation may need to ensure they have the correct disciplines lined up to review designs.

    2. A project lifecycle allows an organisation to create a high level initial breakdown, so that detailed planning can be carried out within each phase. By breaking down a project into phases in a logical way, an organisation can plan and assess the activities and outputs that will be necessary at each stage. Utilising an industry standard life cycle such as the RIBA stages allows a common approach throughout the industry, which saves organisations creating their own, and allows them to utilise best practice throughout each stage. This is particularly useful when reviewing programmes, for example once the planning stage has been defined, if the concept stage is then delayed, it is easy to simply shift the planning stage to identify the effect on programme.

    3. By indicating when project reviews can take place throughout the project lifecycle, an organisation can ensure that a project continues to be viable. Although a business case for a project may be signed off as viable at the start of a project, this does not take into account changes throughout the lifecycle of the project. Often these changes, be they political, economic or otherwise, can have a fundamental impact on the continued viability of a project. A project lifecycle will provide an indication of when key project reviews can take place, ensuring that the relevant authorities are in place and things are coordinated to proceed. Gate reviews in particular ensure that the project continues to be viable through an added level of scrutiny.

    4. By splitting a project up into phases, an organisation can ensure that sufficient attention is devoted to the planning and early stages of the project. A well thought out lifecycle provides an opportunity to ensure that proper attention is given to the early stages by demanding that the project goes through a number of phase gates. If clear expectations and outputs are set for these phase gate reviews, then the project team are forced to devote sufficient resource and energy to ensure adequate outputs are produced. For example by insisting that a construction project is on budget at all gate reviews, it ensures the team produce an affordable set of designs.

    5. Project lifecycles provide an opportunity to link progress directly to phases, and recognise the completion of a phase which will provide increased confidence on the part of shareholders. Linking progress to an industry standard lifecycle provides an easily accessible understanding of project progress to stakeholders, and provides increased confidence each time a project passes through a phase or gate review. As an example, a project progress report may indicate that a project is 60% of the way through the design phase. If this increases to 70% at the next report, this will add confidence.

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